Thursday, 3 October 2013

Back to Basics

Beauty Myths

Wives tales; the industry itself; things our mothers taught us; things our grandmas taught us. There is such a plethora of so called beauty ‘truths’ floating around it’s hard to keep track. So, I'm here to dig a little deeper into these myths and clear up some commonly held misconceptions.
  1. Oil likes Oil
One of the worst things you can do to oily skin is to strip it. It will simply rebel and produce more oil. The high street is a big culprit in this one. Those ‘anti acne’, ‘anti blemish’ foaming cleansers they like to push are not good for your oily prone skin. Put the bottle down and step away. These harsh stripping cleansers destroy the acid mantle which protects your skin, thus making an alkaline environment on your face- a breeding ground for spots. Whilst using oil based makeup products may make your face shiny throughout the day it is a-okay to use oil in parts of your skincare. A general chemical rule of thumb is that like dissolves like. So oil will help dissolve the daily oily grime that can build up on your skin. This is where balm cleansers rule the roost. I would recommend using an oil based cleanser and night time oil treatment but oil-free moisturizer and makeup, if you have oily skin. Good, light, plant oil won’t clog your pores, will nourish and hydrate your skin and won’t break you out. Not all oils are good oils though. Avoid mineral oil. 
  1. You need to cleanse, tone and moisturize
Again we may have the industry to blame for this one. Or our mothers. Toners were traditionally used to remove the last scraps of makeup cleansers left behind. This was back in the day when cleansers weren’t adequate enough to do the job by themselves. They were meant to ‘tone’ the skin. In reality this meant the high alcohol/witch hazel content dried out the epidermis and tightened the skin. But times have a changed. So in the old school sense no you do not need to tone. But now there are plenty of new and exciting ‘toners’ that you should be adding to the mix. The new kids on the block have three main functions; balancing, exfoliating and hydrating. A good toner will reset the balance of your skin. Exfoliating toners are my personal favourite. Containing acids (glycolic, salicylic or lactic) they gently chemically resurface the skin. This is the most effective way to unplug pores without the use of tangible beads, such as apricot kernels. Note: No one should be exfoliating with apricot kernels. A hydrating toner will attract moisture from the air and trap it in the top layers of the skin. And no a water spray will not do the same thing. Our bodies cannot absorb water on their own, or baths and showers would be pretty dangerous to us. In fact water sprays (like the one produced by Evian) actually dehydrate the skin further as the moisture in the air attracts the moisture on your skin and pulls it away. So no, you don’t need your mum or grandma’s version of a toner, but the 21st century ones? They’re pretty good.
  1. You can’t be oily and dehydrated
A huge false. Somehow an idea has spread that oily skin does not need to use moisturizer. Not quite sure who to point the finger of blame on this one. But it is just simply not true. At all. I can’t stress this enough. Oil and moisture are not the same thing. The number one skin condition is dehydration. We are almost all dehydrated yet many of us don’t know it. Be it the good ole’ British weather, central heating, air conditioning, lack of hydration, whatever, dehydrated skin plagues most of us. Whereas oily and dry are skin types (generally something you are born with) dehydration is a skin condition that can affect any skin type. Skin may look oily and be breakout prone but can still feels tight and dry. Makeup can go patchy throughout the day; this is because the skin is so thirsty that it absorbs water wherever it can, even from your foundation. My advice would be to use a hydrating serum and oil free moisturizer. Simples.
  1. It is possible to shrink your pores
Pores are not doors. I love that saying. But you cannot open and close them. They are not muscles. They are what they are I’m afraid. They may look more ‘open’ or ‘closed’ depending on the level of gunk that is inside them. Dirt, dead skin and oil can build up making the pores appear larger. Regular exfoliation will help keep the follicle nice and clean, meaning the pores won’t appear so large. Salicylic acid is key here. Look for it in your cleanser, toner and masks. Brands who claim to leave you poreless are lying. Pore size is genetic. Oily skinned kin I’m afraid we are stuck with them. As we age the skin around the pores loses its firmness. This lack of support from the surrounding tissues may make the pore appear larger. Despite what your facialist, or mother told you, steam will not open your pores. It will simply help shift the layer of dirt. So you can’t banish them completely. But you can control and disguise them with a good skincare routine.
  1. Beauty products have an expiration date
Just like the food you keep in the fridge your skincare and makeup products have a shelf life. The expiration date depends on the products. However, unlike your groceries cosmetic brands generally don’t put ‘use before’ stickers slap bang in the centre of their products. But they are there. While there’s no hard and fast expiration date rule most products carry an icon that looks like a little jar or tube with a number in it. That number refers to the number of months the product is considered safe after opening. For things like mascara that can be as little as three months, whereas skin care products can last for twelve. Sunlight and heat can shave the time off a product’s life. Top tip- keeping your products in the bathroom may have ease of convenience but all that heat and moisture degrades the ingredients. Many products can expire even while in their original, sealed packaging, and once you first tear it open the clock is ticking. To keep things as healthy as possible use cotton buds instead of your fingers to retrieve product, keep in a cool, dry place and if something seems dried out or has been in your stash for longer than you can remember throw it out. As with any relationship you have to know when to say goodbye. Excuse me, I need to go to a bit of spring beauty cleaning.

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